Vence is our home village for our stay for the next couple of weeks. Located about 14 miles from Nice in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region in southeastern France Vence is home to about 19,000 folks. The history of the place goes back to a Roman settlement of Vintium and subsequently became the bishopric and domain of the Villeneuve family. The remnants of a Roman triumphal arch still remain including several “Marsellais Columns”
Within the historic village, a medieval walled village, there are numerous interesting sights and monuments.
The Peyra Gate was remodeled in 1810. The fountain was rebuilt in 1822 replacing an older one dating from 1578. Strolling through the area are various courtyards, dining areas and art displays.
The castle is today the Fondation Èmile Hugues, a modern and contemporary art museum.
The cathedral was built in the 4th century on the site of a Roman temple. The stone of the western façade dates from 239. Another, on the right, was engraved in December 220. Other stones in the external walls represent funerary dedications.
Also on the western side of the church, the Pierre du Tauroble evokes the cult of Cybele and also the Great mother of the Gods of Mount Ido. A chapel in the cathedral has a mosaic by Marc Chagall, dated 1911.
The rue des Portiques is a section of the old Roman road.
After our stroll, we stopped for lunch across from the Plaza du Grand Jardin. This Plaza is where the local markets are held plus various events. Surrounding the Plaza are a number of restaurants and shops – well mostly restaurants actually. Sitting on a wide sidewalk enjoying the afternoon sun was a treat. After our lunch we headed back to the apartment to drop off the car and walk to the Chapel of the Rosary.
The Chapel of the Rosary, or also know as Chapel Matisse is a small place just a 5 minute walk from our apartment.
After major surgery in 1942, Henri Matisse went too Nice to recover. During his recovery he met Monique Bourgeois who was his night nurse. During his recovery they became quite close and she modeled for Matisse on several occasions. However, she felt the calling and entered the convent and became Sister Jacques-Marie.
Once she took her vows, she and Matisse continued to communicate and when she came to Vence he visited often. During one of his visits he learned the sisters were beginning the design for a chapel – a small chapel due to the facilities available. Matisse offered to help design the interior and he was granted the commission. Over the next four years of intensive and exclusive work in collaboration wit the Dominican community a final design was created and built. Henri Matisse is quoted as saying “Despite all of its imperfections, I see it (the chapel) as my masterpiece…It is the result of a life devoted to seeking the truth”…”What I have done in the chapel is create a religious space…To take an enclosed space of very reduced proportions and give it, solely by the play of cloys and lines, the dimensions of infinity.”
The Chapel is quite small and he created a space filled with light and color.
In addition to the Chapel there is a small museum of his work – many sketches for the Chapel as well as other subjects.
The entire day was relaxing and filled with new sights and sounds. All in all another wonderful day in the South of France.